This past weekend, most of us looked on in horror as we watched terrorism unfold in our neighboring state of Virginia. The hate-filled rhetoric of white supremacists and neo-Nazis that echoed throughout Charlottesville should be a strong reminder that racism and anti-Semitism are not dead. The rise of hate crimes and white supremacist rallies are being orchestrated to strike fear in our hearts. We must denounce bigotry and intolerance, but more importantly, turn our words into action.
I stand with Speaker of the House Mike Busch and his call for the removal of the U.S. Supreme Court Justice Roger Taney statue from the Maryland State House grounds. While Justice Taney was not a Confederate leader, his decision in Dred Scott v. Sanford asserting that African Americans could never be citizens of the United States has a shameful place in our nation's history, and there should be no revered place for him on State House grounds.
Recently, the city of New Orleans removed four of its statues honoring Confederate leaders. After the removal of General Robert E. Lee’s statue, Mayor Mitch Landrieu stated, “The Confederacy was on the wrong side of history and humanity. It sought to tear apart our nation and subjugate our fellow Americans to slavery. This is the history we should never forget and one that we should never again put on a pedestal to be revered. We have not erased history; we are becoming part of the city’s history by righting the wrong image these monuments represent and crafting a better, more complete future for all our children and for future generations. And unlike when these Confederate monuments were first erected as symbols of white supremacy, we now have a chance to create not only new symbols, but to do it together, as one people. In our blessed land we all come to the table of democracy as equals. We have to reaffirm our commitment to a future where each citizen is guaranteed the uniquely American gifts of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
As leaders around the country and here in Maryland work to remove painful reminders of violence and oppression (like we in Baltimore County did last year by re-naming our 11th district gem of a park to Lake Roland), I plan to work together with my colleagues and the Maryland State House Trust to remove the statue of Justice Roger Taney. His statue might reflect our history, but it does not reflect our values or our future. And of equal importance, I will continue working to ensure that our economic, educational, health, and transportation systems are accessible and equitable to all, regardless of the color of one’s skin, who one loves, what religion one practices, or disability.
What I’ve Been Up To...
Can you believe it’s August already?! The summer has flown by. I just returned home from a productive few days in Boston with my colleagues at the National Conference of State Legislators. We met with legislators from across the country, attended panels on a variety of subjects and had an opportunity to learn from experts and one another. I’m returning to Maryland with some interesting ideas for legislation.
I’ve spent most of the summer in and around the community, meeting constituents at annual meetings, senior centers, and more. We have just under 5 months until the 2018 session and I’m looking forward to spending that time seeing many more of you in the community! If you would like to meet with me or have me speak to your community group, please contact my Legislative Director, Maureen Evans Arthurs at 410-841-3833 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To kick off the summer, I attended senior awards ceremonies congratulating the 2017 graduates of Dulaney, Owings Mills, New Town, and Pikesville high schools.
This year, my office awarded students more than $52,000 through the Maryland General Assembly scholarship program. I was excited to meet students from all over the district who are getting scholarship assistance. Applications for the 2018 school year will be available in January of 2018.
I was humbled to walk with community activists and Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence during Baltimore’ Ceasefire weekend.
National Night Out is one of my favorite events of the year! In under 3 hours, I had the opportunity to visit more than 5 neighborhoods, see dedicated community activists and police officers who protect and serve our diverse and vibrant community.
The Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, otherwise known as the Kirwan Commission, was established to review funding formulas for public education. The committee will recommend policy changes to the legislature. Although I am not on the commission, I have attended several workgroup sessions over the summer and my committee will be considering their recommendations next session.
Pharmacist Prescribed Contraception Workgroup
In the 2017 session, my bill that will allow for pharmacists to prescribe contraception was enacted. I’m currently involved in a series of workgroup meetings that have brought all of the stakeholders to the table in order to establish the necessary regulations for the safe implementation of this legislation.
Important Resources & Time Sensitive Opportunities
Sunday, August 13 through Saturday, August 19, qualifying clothing and footwear priced under $100 is exempt from the state’s 6 percent sales tax. Legislation passed this year adds backpacks to the list of eligible items. However, only the first $40 of a backpack purchase is tax-free; any amount over $40 is subject to the 6% sales tax. For more information on taxable and exempt items, please click here.
This critical tax credit of up to $5,000 can help Marylanders pay off high amounts of student debt. If you have at least $20,000 in debt and a balance of at least $5,000 you could be eligible. To learn more about this opportunity, click here, but please make note of the deadline: September 15th, 2017.
Passed in the 2017 session, HB 340 increases the number of individuals eligible for the Renters Tax Credit and increases the amount of the credit. Click here to see if you’re eligible and obtain an application.
If you’re over 62 and plan to travel to any of the national parks, for $10 you can buy a Senior Pass, which enables you to visit any or all the national parks for no charge. But the Lifetime Pass will increase to $80 on August 28th. You can apply for a $10 pass online.
I wish you all the best for the remaining days of summer & look forward to hearing from you as we approach the fall. Please share with me any ideas you have for legislation. Campaign season is almost upon us & I look forward to updating you soon on how you can be involved in our 2018 campaign.